Consumers need to have right to choice, be more aware: Activists

Purchasing eatables at a posh restaurant or a multiplex can be a costly affair and may even give a consumer second thoughts about spending a mini fortune on exorbitantly-priced food items.

The government says that such items are costly because the service providers include the cost of ambience as well as the cost of operating in the premises in it while selling such consumables. Consumer rights activists say that consumers should be more united while fighting for their rights and exercise their right of choice if viable options are available.

Consumer rights activist and editor of Consumer Voice Sri Ram Khanna said that as far as food items being costly at restaurants is concerned, consumers have a choice to choose where to eat and they can easily opt for a place where a particular item is slightly reasonably priced.

However he added that in places like multiplexes, where the consumer is under a captive environment, he or she has no other option but to purchase eatables at the price which is being offered there.

Though multiplexes too include charges like operating costs in the items they sell across the counter, due to lack of options, consumers are forced to pay the price on offer, Khanna said.

This, he added, can be termed as violation of a consumer’s right and is something which should be opposed. However since service providers are united and consumers are not, therefore more often than not, they have to pay whatever is being charged at such a place.

Further emphasising his point, Khanna said that nobody for example, complains against a five-star hotel for selling a cup of coffee at an exorbitant price, even though the prices at such places are high due to cost of land, rent and other operating costs included in it.

This is because, he said, consumers don’t feel the need to do so due to lack of unity among them.

The government, on its part, says that it can intervene only when items are being sold at a price more than the printed maximum retail price (MRP).

In case of overcharging, action can be taken, however if somebody is purchasing eatables at a high-end restaurant, airport lounge or a multiplex, then one is paying for the ambience as well as the various operating costs which the service provider includes in it, official sources said.

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